KARACHI: Pakistan has enormous potential for becoming the hub of regional transit trade and Prime Minister’s initiative to build 2,000 kilometre Gwadar-Kashgar trade corridor will go a long way in developing local infrastructure, creating jobs and revolutionising intra-regional connectivity.
Transit Trade Director Muhammad Javed Ghani expressed the views during in an exclusive interview with Customs Today at his office.
Javed Ghani pointed out that apart from Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), Pakistan was also a signatory to the ECO Transit Agreement and Quadrilateral Trade Agreement between Pakistan, China, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, adding that taking into account this scenario, the Transit Trade Directorate General was striving hard to exploit the opportunity to bring in benefits for the nation.
Responding to a query, the Transit Trade Director informed that the TT Directorate General during the year 2012-13, transited commercial goods worth almost Rs100 billion to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory, adding that similar transit facility was also provided to Afghanistan for being a landlocked country.
“Besides Pakistan, Iran and some Central Asian states are also providing transit facility to Afghanistan,” he informed, adding that no import duty and other taxes were charged on the transit goods as per the international law.
To another query, Javed Ghani said that keeping in view the significance of the transit trade cargos, the Federal Board of Revenue had established an exclusive Directorate General to deal with the affairs of transit trade across the country.
Shedding light of the functioning of TT Directorate General, Javed Ghani informed that core responsibility of the Directorate was to deal with the weightage, scanning of containerised transit cargo, processing of transit documents, securing financial securities and examination of the goods both at the port of entry and at exit for cargo movement to and from Afghanistan and the cargo destined for India from Torkham and Chaman border posts.
“Allowing loading, sealing and de-sealing, mounting of tracking devices and gate-out at Karachi Port and Port Bin Qasim besides en-route tracking and monitoring of the transit trade cargo in collaboration with MCC-Preventive are also among the major responsibilities of the Directorate,” he elaborated.
Replying to a query, the TT Director informed that the Directorate also monitored transit trade cargo movement at en-route check-posts under the administrative control of Customs Collectorates.
“Similarly, apparent clearance of the carriers is handled by both the Model Customs Collectorates Appraisement and Preventive, adding that the function of licensing the bonded carriers as well as transport operators responsible for the safe transportation of the transit trade goods and registration of their vehicles was regulated by the Model Customs Collectorate Appraisements”, he explained.
The TT Director revealed that the FBR planned strengthening the Directorate General on war footings through increased logistics and human resources to streamline the procedures further and make the Directorate solely responsible for the regulation of transit trade.
To a query, Javed Ghani informed that the TT Directorate General currently was handling commercial transit trade cargo, non-commercial transit and US military/ISAF consignments to and from Afghanistan through the routes of Khairabad Customs check-post (between Attock and Peshawar), Kohat Customs check-post and Baleli Customs check-post (between Quetta and Qila Abdullah).
About improvement made in the transit trade system, Javed Ghani said that with the introduction of new Customs Rules in 2011 under the APTTA further improvements had been made in the procedure for clearance of transit trade cargo.
Speaking about the improvements introduced in the APTTA, Javed Ghani said that the legal framework to regulate the transit trade operations had been specifically provided in the shape of notification SRO601(1)/2011 on June 13, 2011 and CGO 10.2012 on July 31, 2012, “Penalty in case of violation of transit trade rules has been enhanced under the Customs Act, 1969, the scheme of bonded carriers with enhanced security amounting Rs20 million has been introduced for safe transportation of the goods, an elaborating system of documentation has been devised for ensuring reconciliation of the documents relating to transit trade,” he claimed, adding that timelines had been provided for reconciliation of the transit trade data. He said that 100 percent scanning was carried out at the port of entry at Karachi and Port Qasim and copy of scanned image was dispatched to the exit directorates. The TT Directorate also obtain insurance guarantees as customs security in relation to the commercial transit trade cargo to obviate any chances of en-route pilferage and tracking and monitoring of the containerized cargo was carried out through tracking and monitoring system.
“According to the Rule 14 of the Customs General Order 10/2012 dated 13.07.2012 and Rule 650 of the Customs notification SRO601 (1)/2011 dated June 6, 2011 require reconciliation of the dispatched consignments to ensure that goods, which are transported through the registered bonded carriers, has safely and securely crossed the border as currently it is done both manually as well as electronically”, he asserted.
“You see the TT Directorate General has introduced various measures including procedure for cross-stuffing at the port of exit, procedure for the movement of US/ISAF reverse cargo, procedure for the US/ISAF re-export of frustrated cargo,” he pointed out, adding that a centralized one-window processing section for transit trade arriving at Port Qasim and Karachi Port had been established at Custom House and separate station codes for Port Qasim and Karachi Port had been obtained exclusively for the transit trade.
The TT Director enumerated that a separate customs security cell had been established, fully automated customs computerised modules (WeBOC) for clearance of forward US/ISAF cargo had been launched and fully automated customs computerized module (WeBOC) for the clearance of commercial transit trade cargo had been launched as a pilot project from Jan 1, 2014. Similarly, automated customs computerized module (WeBOC) for the clearance of reverse US/ISAF cargo has been launched as pilot project from Jan 15, 2014, he added
Responding to query, Javed Ghani informed the Customs Today that Pakistan Customs through the FBR had requested the Afghan Government to impart training its staff to handle computerized system (WeBOC) in Afghanistan.
He further said that the installation of scanners for reverse cargo en-route from Afghanistan to Pakistan was in the offing and the FBR would take a final decision in this regard to streamline the transit trade operations.